What’s the Best Way to Leave Money to Charity?

27 December 2018

There are a number of reasons why someone may want to leave a gift to charity when they die. It may be that the charity has provided assistance to them or one of their loved ones, or it could simply be a cause that they feel strongly about. If you want to leave money to charity when you die, then the best way to do this is by making a Will that clearly states the charity's name, address and charity number, so that there's absolutely no uncertainty when the time comes.

Without a Will, everything you own will be passed on in line with inheritance laws called the Rules of Intestacy. These rules place your relatives in order of priority and will set out who should inherit what from you. Even if you have told your loved ones that you would like a certain charity to benefit from your Estate when you die, your Beneficiaries would have no legal obligation to carry out your wishes unless you have made a Will in which you have stated this wish.

How to Leave a Gift to Charity in Your Will

The best way to make sure that the charity (or charities) of your choice benefit from your Estate in the way that you would like is to set out your wishes in a legally valid Will. We would always recommend seeking professional advice when you make a Will. A poorly drafted Will could be misinterpreted or even deemed invalid after you die, meaning that your Estate might not be distributed in the way you would have wanted.

A gift to charity will need to be worded in a specific way, to ensure that there is no room for misunderstanding. It's important to clearly state the charity's name, address and their registered charity number, along with details of exactly what you would like them to receive.

You can choose to leave gifts to multiple charities, if you wish and you can divide your Estate between charities and your loved ones in any way you wish. You can choose to leave a specified amount of money to charity (called a pecuniary legacy) or a percentage of your remaining Estate after debts and other gifts have been paid (called a residuary legacy).

What to Consider when Leaving a Gift to Charity

It's important to note that pecuniary legacies will be paid before residuary legacies, so you'll want to take this into account when making your Will. For example, if you choose to leave £1000 to charity, and then 50% of your residuary Estate to each of your children, then if at the time of your death your Estate is not worth as much as you expected, it's your children's inheritance that is the most likely to be compromised.

If you make your Will with a professional Will Writing firm, such as Co-op Legal Services, our Will Writers can go through all of these potential eventualities with you, making sure that every possible eventuality has been considered.

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